“ZOMG, Halberds are so awesome!” The Internet raves. ”It should be like, all Halberds, all the time!” Hokay, now, calm down. Yes, NFW Halberds are good. Going at Initiative 6 puts you before the whole wide world of MEQs (like 60% of 4ok, at least), even before those with furious charge. Since they’re power weapons, that are often at a boosted strength, you are really fairly likely kill a lot of the enemy before they get a chance to swing. But, of course, not everything is a MEQ (just as not every vehicle is a rhino), and even against a MEQ (Marine EQuivalent) there are times when the the +2 initiative isn’t going to be helpful. Perhaps, more importantly, all the other Nemesis Force Weapons can be pretty awesome, though costs and cost effectiveness for all of them vary widely by unit. So let’s talk about when to use NFW halberds, and what the real cost/benefit of them is. First, let’s get two things out of the way.
- Yes, you are pretty much alway going to get them on Purifier Squads. 2 pts (!!!) is stupid cheap, and it’s not just that low cost alone, it’s that it’s augmenting 2 attacks, so you’re really only paying 1pt per attack to make it Init 6.
- No, you should pretty much never get them on Strike Squads. 5pts isn’t so cheap, especially for a unit that only has 1 attack, and wants to fighting in CC as a distant second to using it’s ranged firepower.
So with it being a pretty much auto-include on Purifiers, and a never-include on strike squads, and therefore interceptor squads, as well, (can we all admit that people don’t really use purgation squads?) what we’re really talking about is when to take them on Terminators squads (including paladin’s) and how much. And that’s what has really been making me pull my hair out, people saying termies should have all halberds, all the time. Well, no, they shouldn’t, and I’ll tell you why.
Let’s talk about other things vying for the same slot:
- NFW Hammers. I think we all understand how these should be used. You use them for the same reasons Space Marines bring Powerfists, and you probably want 1 in most squads, to protect from walkers, big MCs you weren’t sure you’d wound, give you something to do if you fail to kill the transport with your psycannons. Maybe you want 2 in big squads, not necessarily, but you pretty much always want 1.
- NFW Falchions. Hey, these aren’t that bad, actually. Yes, they got nerfed to only 1 attack (RAW, they were clearly +2 attacks IMHO). But really, on a terminator, 5 pts for +1 attacks is just fine. You’re already paying 20 pts each for the first 2 attacks. Still, though, this is offensive approach, and I don’t know how well it competes with +2 initiative for free on that front. Useful to create more unique equipped models, though.
- Brotherhood Banner and NFW warding staff. These are specialist items. They have their place and they can be good, but they’re situational, so let’s not worry about them for the moment.
- NFW Sword. Ah, there it is. This is really what the discussion is about. The sword gives you 4+ invo save, but only in close combat. People poo poo that, but it’s actually pretty good. It is almost, in fact, as good as a storm shield.
OK, so when we’re talking about the worthiness of halberds, and in comparison to what, really we’re talking about versus the greatswords.
Let’s talk about all the times that Halberds essentially don’t matter, most of them due the race you’re fighting alone:
- Anytime you’re fighting Orks. Initiative 2
- Anytime you’re fighting Imperial Guard Initiative 3
- Anytime you’re fighting Necrons. Initiative 2
- Anytime you’re fighting Tau. Initiative 2
- Anytime you’re fighting Sisters of Battle. Initiative 3
- Anytime you’re fighting Demons. You have psyk-out grenades, and should be assaulting them, or you made them assault across difficult ground. Either way, Initiative 1. There’s a couple demons that have grenades, but it’s pretty rare.
- Almost anytime you’re fighting tyranids. Same situation as with Demons, but sometimes they do have grenades, or weren’t psychic.
- Let’s say about half the time you’re facing either variety of eldar. Banshees, several dark eldar types are faster than you on the charge.
- Oh, here’s a fun one! Your halberds mean absolutely nothing when playing another Grey Knight player. Because either you assault him, or he assaults you, and then one of you is initiative 1. No, there isn’t going to be a second round.
- Which brings us back to Marines. How do marines get most of their kills in CC against other MEQs? That’s right, powerfists. we’ll discuss the classic tac squad in a bit, but it’s worth noting that halberds don’t help you at all against what may be the most feared unit in 40k — Thunderhammer and stormshield terminators. (so much so, that some people, such as Kirby, claim if you don’t have 3++ save you’re useless in CC).
So, by that account alone, and looking hear at relative percentages of different races at WargamesCon
, from this helpful article on BOLS
, it looks like 67 players fit into the above categories (I counted eldar and Dark Eldar, at half #s). That’s 67 out of 144 players total…..47%. Your halberds are going to do nothing against 47% of armies out there. OK, well, first, wow, that’s actually a lot of marine players, I really wish GW would stop spraying all over marines with their special love juice, but that’s not really on point. Let’s see how Halberds do against marines, shall we?
We already know that halberds don’t change things against thunderhammers. Let’s match 5 Grey Knight terminators against 10 Tactical marines, with a power fist, and see how that goes. This is more than fair, your GKT actually cost more than his guys. Can we kill that power fist sarge before he gets to swing? Here’s how you do the mathammer:
10 attacks, 15 on the charge. Hitting 4+ means 7.5 hits. 7.5 wounds, wounding on a 4+, means 3.75 wounds, which don’t get save. If you want, you can assume you cast hammerhand, which means that you get 5 wounds.
Point is, did you kill the power fist? No, you did not. He swings twice, hits once, pulps a terminator. Or really, he pulps 2/3 of a terminator, because you do have an invo save. Would you like to have an extra 50% chance to live though that powerfist, that you will be taking in the face? Of course you would, and that’s why you take the Nemesis Force Weapon Sword.
Against anything that has a lot of powerweapons, in fact, and lies outside your normal init 4 or 5 (TH/SS termies, banshees) you’d much rather have ALL NFW swords, if you could. 50% more models will survive, period.
And really, this principle applies to most CC units in 40K. They are either hardcore, specialist units, that are somehow outside your normal initiative options, or they are blog of fairly regular dudes, one of whom, happens to have a weapon that can hurt you. The later, is the more common case, and you’re just not, unless you’re using waaaaaayyyyyy more points than he is, going to get through and knock out that sarge with a powerfist, or a witch with an agonizer, in one round, so you need to be able to survive the backswing.
None of this is to say that Halberd aren’t good. Of course they are. Every Initiative 4 or 5 model to kill is damage that potentially isn’t coming in. Against something like incubi (I5), that don’t have furious charge, it’s awesome. But they aren’t everything, and you shouldn’t equip them in exclusion.
On terminators, especially, there is also the issue of individually equipped models. Against non power weapon attacks, having all individually equipped models gives you something like 4 or 5 times the survivability. Smarter folks than me have done the math, but it’s really much more than you’d think it was. This is on single wound models, mind you.
So where does this leave us for how to equip GKT? To my mind there’s only one real answer for a 5 man squad. You’re giving them a psycannon, of course, give that guy a sword, you want him to live longest. One of them is going to have a hammer, of course. One is a justicar, even though he’s really no different, give him a halberd, so that’s one more down. The last two get one halberd and sword each.
2/2/1, that’s really the ratio you want to keep. 2 halberds, 2 swords, and a hammer for luck. At large squad sizes it gets harder, but at these larger sizes, BroBanner’s and Warding Staves become more useful, so that helps, and you can always add in some falchions just for flavor.
I hope this was helpful.